The truth that, in the Christian life, we belong to and need one another is easier to accept with some people than others. Br. Curtis Almquist invites us to the practice of “philonexia,” love of the stranger, for in the Good News of Christ, there are no strangers.
Transcript: We cannot do this alone. You cannot do this alone. We need one another. The metaphor that’s used in the epistles about our being followers of Jesus is that we’re members of a body. The fact that not everyone is a head, or not everyone is a heart, or not everyone is a foot, or a kidney, doesn’t mean that they are not essential. We all need one another and we belong to one another. And so when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, Jesus leaves us with what we call the Lord’s Prayer. And, you know, it’s plural, “Our Father who art in Heaven…Give us…Forgive us,” it’s presuming that we belong to one another, that we are partnered with one another, that we need one another.
This is easier to imagine with some people than with others. And yet I think what is often times true is that what could appear to us as a stain on someone else, as something that we might find repelling, or might elicit our judgment is probably not a stain. It’s probably a scar that they won well, and that we would be greatly moved if we learned more about them, more about people whom we find are different, maybe even repelling.
There is a fascinating word that’s used in the letter to the Hebrews, and that is the word for the love of strangers, philonexia. It’s exactly the opposite of xenophobia, which is being afraid of strangers, or put off by strangers. The letters of the Hebrews says this reminder to love the brothers or sisters, and do not forget the stranger, because there are no strangers to Jesus.
My suggestion to you is to reflect on why is it that you are a follower of Jesus. What is at the core of the gospel for you? Remember, gospel is good news. So what is good? What is good that is compelling, and is transformative in your life? And what is news? News is different than olds. What is news? How is God coming to you, meeting you, inviting you, serving you, serving through you to others. If someone were to ask you what is the core of the gospel, could you give them an answer in – let’s say – three sentences, which would be demonstrated both by your lips, what you say, and by your life, what you do.
– Br. Curtis Almquist
Question: What is the core of the Gospel (“Good News”) for you?
This activity invites you to explore the Baptismal Covenant in prayer and reflection during your day and throughout the week. Each morning, write a short prayer based on that day’s question from the Baptismal Covenant. Each evening, reflect on how you are living into this aspect of your faith.